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The New Interface – Mass media choices: revise your thinking

Media choices for advertising can be difficult. Most marketing managers for larger companies with formal advertising skills are comfortable to leave them in the hands of media planners in agencies. Smaller companies that handle their advertising on an ad-hoc basis follow the observable behaviour of larger companies. The result is often less than ideal.
The challenge in selecting media lies in its complexity. For instance, if you wanted to sell a breakfast cereal, where would you advertise. Assuming you take the stereotypical view of the household, you would make the assumption that the woman would be responsible for shopping, or at least the list. What media would you choose to reach her? At what time of day would she be most likely to be using that media?
In Namibia, the range of media types is limited. It is a function of the size of the market, but it is also a function of fragmentation. There are, for instance, a large number of daily papers, trying to reach the same consumers with similar content offerings. The same applies to radio. Because the market is small, segmentation and targeted media becomes a threat, the exception being business news.

Targeted niche media, at this point, includes relatively low volume media targeted at mothers, home owners or buyers and animal lovers. Press, it must be noted, valiantly attempts to niche target by producing supplements.
Given the overlaps in media usage, the typical media plan tries to reduce the potential of missing a consumer by using a set of the same media, substantially increasing the cost, but for marginal gains in visibility, which translates into yet more marginal gains in consumer activation.
The turnover of the local organisation dictates that the marketing budget will be relatively small, sometimes even tiny. However, if a traditional mass media campaign is required, there are options that are often overlooked. Consider the typical campaigns for brands driven out of South Africa. In many instances, larger local enterprises will ignore the most obvious examples of South African media usage, billboards and television.
The standard objection will be that the South African entity has a larger budget. This is almost certainly not true. Local media spend will be linked to productivity of the media, so the budget will be limited by sales, and it will mirror the amount available on a Namibian budget.
What do South African media planners know that local media planners ignore?
Both television and billboards are extremely effective mediums that drive sales. And, with a bit of adroit planning, both of them can fit comfortably into the local budget.
The reason for the impact is that both of the mediums are ‘captive’ mediums. Their users are focussed on them. Although radio fits comfortably in a car, the driver’s mind may be elsewhere. The driver’s eyes however can pick up the message of a well-made billboard with ease.
Although newspapers are pervasive, the page can be turned rapidly without stopping to dwell on the advertisement. There are however a huge number of viewers who sit down to watch local television, OneAfrica and NBC. The viewers are less likely to ‘turn the page’. They sit down and become captive by choosing to watch.
The comparative costs are not expensive, particularly if you consider fragmentation of media. The cost of spreading a campaign over the range of print and radio options can easily be offset against the cost of a couple of well chosen billboard sites. Television may come across as expensive, but an entire budget for a campaign over a couple of months, including production, will produce a remarkably low cost per 1000 viewers.
This column does not include the web and social media, which are now a particularly important part of the Namibian media landscape. I’ll deal with those in a coming column. For now, consider the cost of established media patterns, and how you can gain by stepping outside the box.


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